(An excerpt from Chapter 1, Childhood)
by Stanley Blackford, Captain Ex Adjutant, 6th Royal Battalion (SCINDE)
13th Frontier Force Rifles, Indian Army
During the first four years of my life I uttered barely a sound, except when I saw a car. Then I would cry ‘Popo popo’ in imitation of a car horn. It was the pre-electric horn era, when cars were fitted with bulb horns to warn pedestrians and other traffic of the approach of one’s car.
A typical horn was a long metal tube, sometimes ornamentally fashioned like a sea serpent with a large head, complete with vicious teeth and red tongue protruding from a snarling mouth, and with fiery red eyes that glared balefully at pedestrians from the front of the car as if to reproach them for cluttering up the road so untidily. The other end of the tube ended conveniently outside the driver’s window in a hand-sized rubber bulb, which the driver squeezed. At each squeeze the device emitted a protesting sound like a squawking crow or a mooing cow.
Indian peasants had a habit of walking in the middle of the road, ignoring traffic. Impatient motorists, consequently felt compelled to sound their horns continually, simultaneously swearing loudly at other road users. Motorists, pedestrians, tongas, ghora gharries, rickshaws, bullock carts and their drivers, all ignored traffic regulations, meandering over the road and swearing back loudly. To this was added the shouts of bullock-cart drivers to their animals, the tinkle of rickshaw bells, and the farts of horses straining to pull tongas and ghora gharries. A glorious cacophony of noise!
©Copyright 2000 Stanley Blackford